The ANMF has fired a shot across the bow at BlueCross and ACSAG nursing home, publicly announcing it will visit each of their facilities to discuss the log of claims for better staffing levels, wages and conditions.

The enterprise agreements for both employers expire on 31 May 2017.

Both nursing home groups, along with several other larger providers, set the wages benchmark for private-for-profit aged care in Victoria. ANMF and its members want BlueCross and ACSAG to continue to set the standard, the association said in its press release.

“ANMF is seeking to negotiate better wages for registered nurses, enrolled nurses and personal care workers employed in about 17 BlueCross facilities which were historically classified as ‘low care’ compared to the seven BlueCross facilities regarded as ‘high care’.”

“These employees are paid lower rates because the aged care facility they work in was once a low-care ‘hostel’ and only had ‘low-care’ residents.”

“With ageing in place hostels and low-care-only facilities no longer exist, but under enterprise agreements employers can legally continue to pay the low-care rates.”

“BlueCross started to address this issue in the last agreement. This time ANMF will be asking them to take a bigger step towards eliminating the gap between low-care and high-care pay rates.”

“ANMF is also seeking improved skill mix and ratios to ensure our members can provide safe, quality resident care.”

“Specific personal care worker claims include career structure improvements, exam leave and a fifth week of annual leave for Monday to Friday shift workers.”

BlueCross CEO, Adjunct Professor Alan Lilly, said they will be working with staff and the ANMF to overcome the issue.

“We look forward to working with our staff and the ANMF to achieve the best possible outcome in the context of a changing and sometimes uncertain landscape,” he said.

ANMF also acknowledged the challenging environment, conceding the cuts to aged care funding and inflation rate of 1.5 per cent make it difficult to negotiate higher wages for staff, but it said despite this, many aged care providers still make reasonable profits per bed.